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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW : Cerritos boys soccer unable to clinch long-awaited playoff spot in setback to Pioneer

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


The Cerritos High boys soccer program had been the laughing stock of the Suburban League since the last time the program went to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. When the Dons moved from the Mission Valley League to the Suburban League, they quickly won two league crowns and went undefeated in 24 league contests.

Since then, Cerritos has not placed higher than fifth place and in fact, has finished in last place 14 times. But in the new 605 League, the team found new life and had a chance to end the playoff drought. As the Dons hosted Pioneer High last Friday, they were in third place, two points behind Pioneer. With a chance to clinch a playoff spot, Cerritos couldn’t find its groove and was blanked 2-0.

“A win could have helped us because that means we would have hopped [Pioneer] for second place,” said Cerritos first-year head coach Juan Rodriguez. “We both have a common opponent left in Artesia, which is a tough one. Then we would have held our own destiny after that had we gotten that victory. A tie would have helped too, but we didn’t put it up today. We just have to focus on the next two games.”

Cerritos, who had tied the Titans 1-1 on Jan. 8, were held in check in the first half, getting just a pair of shots. Meanwhile, Pioneer broke the ice in the 26thminute when Gerardo Hernandez converted a penalty kick after a player was dragged by a Cerritos player, just seconds after the head referee had instructed all players to keep their arms down. Then second before halftime, Jorge Alvarez Luna scored the insurance goal.

Cerritos had three chances to score in the second half with the first coming in the 55thminute, but junior forward Noah Leonardo misplayed on an open net opportunity. A minute later, his free kick chance was punched away by Danny Torres and two minutes after that, a header from junior forward Julian Jaimes went over the crossbar.

“We knew they were going to try to spread us out,” Rodriguez said. “We talked about staying compact and I felt like we did a good job. We just had a few mental mistakes that they broke through in the back. In the second half, we came out more pressuring, but in the first half, those two mistakes killed us.”

This past Monday, the Dons fell to league champion Artesia High 7-1, then were eliminated from playoff contention after tying Oxford Academy 1-1. Cerritos wrapped up the regular season 7-10-4 overall and 3-4-3 in league play, one point behind third place Whitney High. For Cerritos to even be in this position is miles apart from the past two seasons. Cerritos had gone 5-37-3 overall and 0-23-1 in league the past two seasons.

“It’s just teaching these guys how to have pride in what they do,” Rodriguez said. “It’s about competing and giving it your best every day and just having the right mentality when you come into games.”

In other boys soccer action, Artesia was a game away from completing an undefeated 605 League season after blanking Pioneer 4-0 this past Wednesday. Artesia, ranked fourth in Division 3, was 16-1-3 overall and 9-0 in league entering its Jan. 31 meeting with John Glenn High. The Pioneers will host a first round playoff game on Thursday.

Two other area teams, which won their respective leagues, will also be hosting first round playoff games on Thursday. Norwalk High, the third ranked team in Division 4, blanked Bellflower High 1-0 this past Tuesday to improve to 16-0-3 overall and 6-0-2 in the Suburban League. The Lancers have posted 13 shutouts and have yielded one goal in five other games. Norwalk hosted last place Mayfair High in Jan. 31. Valley Christian High, champions of the Olympic League, shutout Whittier Christian High 3-0 this past Tuesday to improve to 13-3-1 overall, 6-0-1 in league. The Defenders, who have won six league championships in the past seven seasons, are ranked third in Division 6 and have allowed three goals in league competition.  They hosted second place Maranatha High on Jan. 31.

Whitney High concluded the regular season winning two of its final three games to lock down third place in the 605 League and an automatic berth in the playoffs. The Wildcats, who edged Glenn 2-1 this past Wednesday, is 5-11-3 overall, but 4-5-1 in league.


The up and down season for Gahr High continued with a 57-54 win at Paramount High this past Tuesday, moving the Gladiators to a 15-12 overall mark and 4-5 in the San Gabriel Valley League. The win put Gahr in a three-way tie for third place and the final automatic playoff spot. Gahr hosted second place Downey High on Jan. 31.

V.C. beat Whittier Christian 56-44 this past Tuesday and took a 15-11 overall mark, 3-4 in league into its Jan. 31 game against Maranatha. The Defenders have won eight of their last 10 games to put themselves in a position to claim third place in league or get an at-large playoff berth.


Norwalk blasted Bellflower 65-29 this past Tuesday to improve to 14-10 overall, 6-2 in the Suburban League, good enough for second place. The Lady Lancers concluded the regular season against Mayfair on Jan. 31.

After a great start to the season, Whitney has stumbled in the month of January, winning two of its last seven games. The Lady Wildcats fell to Pioneer 47-39 this past Tuesday in a battle for third place and dropped to fourth place in the 605 League. Whitney (17-9, 4-5) travelled to Glenn on Jan. 31


V.C. won its third straight Olympic League crown and ninth in the past 11 seasons after blanking Whittier Christian 7-0 this past Tuesday. The Defenders (14-5, 5-0) have outscored league opponents 27-0 entering its Jan. 31 home game with Maranatha.